Nov 21, 2007
Outside Magazine

Brittle Stars in Bonaire    Photo: Kathryn McAdoo

THE AQUATIC BOUNTY and 80-plus-foot visibility in the waters off this arid, mostly flat isle 50 miles north of Venezuela inspire a kind of reef madness among scuba divers. "Bonaire has some of the nicest diving in the world," says Bruce Bowker, who came to the island in 1973 as its first full-time dive instructor. "It's like jumping into an aquarium." Just a flutter-kick away from the island's leeward shore, you'll find seahorses, soft corals swaying like hula girls, and swirls of sergeant majors and blue tang. Eighty-nine buoy-marked dive sites, all within the Bonaire National Marine Park, shelter almost 500 species of fish—more than can be found anywhere else in the Caribbean.

PLAYTIME: Bari Reef, on the island's western shore, is said to be the best fish-spotting location in the Caribbean. Hook up with Bonaire Dive & Adventure's Jerry Ligon, a naturalist who can help you on your way to identifying more than 100 different species of fish. From $40;

ISLAND LIVING: Opened in September 2007 on a hillside overlooking the sea, La Pura Vista is a five-room guesthouse with a mosaic-tiled pool. Doubles from $125;

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